Plasma odd-chain saturated fatty acids (OCFA) are inversely associated with type 2 diabetes (T2D) risk and may serve as biomarkers for dairy fat intake. Their distribution across different lipid classes and consequences for diabetes risk remain unknown.
To investigate the prospective associations of OCFA-containing lipid species with T2D risk and their dietary determinants.
Within the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition-Potsdam study (n = 27,548), we applied a nested case-cohort design (subcohort: n = 1,248; T2D cases: n = 820; median follow-up 6.5 years). OCFA-containing lipids included triacylglycerols, free fatty acids (FFA), cholesteryl esters (CE), phosphatidylcholines, phosphatidylethanolamines, lysophosphatidylcholines, lysophosphatidylethanolamines, monoacylglycerols, and diacylglycerols. We estimated lipid class-specific associations between OCFA-containing lipids and T2D in sex-stratified Cox proportional-hazards models. We investigated correlations between lipids and dietary intakes derived from food-frequency questionnaires.
We observed heterogeneous integration of OCFA in different lipid classes: triacylglycerols, FFA, CE, and phosphatidylcholines contributed most to the total OCFA-plasma abundance. The relative concentration of OCFA was particularly high in monoacylglycerols, and the contribution of C15:0 versus C17:0 to the total OCFA-abundance differed across lipid classes. In women, several OCFA-containing phospholipids were inversely associated with T2D risk [phosphatidylcholine(C15:0), HR Q5 vs Q1: 0.56, 95% CI 0.32-0.97; phosphatidylcholine(C17:0), HR per SD: 0.59, 95% CI 0.48-0.71; lysophosphatidylcholine(C17:0), HR Q5 vs Q1: 0.42, 95% CI 0.23-0.76]. In men, we did not detect statistically significant inverse associations in phospholipids, and lysophosphatidylcholine(C15:0) was associated with higher T2D risk (HR Q5 vs. Q1: 1.96, 95% CI 1.06-3.63). Besides, CE(C17:0), monoacylglycerols(C15:0), and diacylglycerols(C15:0) were inversely associated with T2D risk; FFA(C17:0) was positively associated with T2D risk in women. Consumption of fat-rich dairy and fiber-rich foods were positively and red meat inversely correlated to OCFA-containing lipid plasma levels.
OCFA-containing lipids are linked to T2D risk in a lipid class and sex-specific manner, and they are correlated with several foods.

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